Whether you’re a lone wolf or a team player barking out enemy positions on a headset, your kill-death ratio can sometimes say more about how you play than your Gamerscore or PSN Trophy count ever could. So, with all the great Team Deathmatches we’ve seen recently, we here at EGM have decided to look at five of our favorite incarnations of this mode…
Gears of War 3
Released: September 20, 2011 – Xbox 360
As tremendous as the multiplayers were for previous Gears games, Gears of War 3 pulled out all the stops. Not only does it flesh out the experience on a weekly basis with constant modifications from the folks at Epic, but even the standard first team to 25 kills has made this my Team Deathmatch of choice whenever I get a chance. Whether it’s dueling chainsaws, seeing the explosion from a grenade you planted as a proximity mine, or hearing the swears of your victim on headset once the match is over, Gears of War 3’s version of team deathmatch has quickly jumped to the top of the charts for me as my favorite due to the variety of ways to dispatch victims—as well as the diverse maps that see you fighting in locations all over lambent infected Sera.
SOCOM: US Navy SEALs
Released: August 27, 2002 – PS2
While most online deathmatch experiences focus on a constant cycle of kill, respawn, and kill again, the SOCOM series has made a name for itself on the idea that each life counts: If you die, you’re out—watching from the sidelines until the next round. This emphasis on realism puts a greater importance on teamwork, strategy, and skill that helps create the closest thing to an online sport you’ll find in the deathmatch circuit. When you’re down to the final seconds of a match, outnumbered 3-1, and your entire team looking on to see if you can pull out a critical win, you’ll know exactly why I can’t get enough of this underappreciated shooter.
Released: April 7, 1999 – PC
The one thing I can’t stand about most first-person shooters—and most team deathmatches—is how similarly they all look and play. Team Fortress, with its nine classes, broke that mold and hooked me back in my college days—my dormmate and I even formed our own two-man clan. Sure, TF offers the flamethrowing Pyro and the long-distance treachery of the Sniper. But if you suck at shooting, you can still have plenty of fun: Heal your teammates as a Medic, build traps as an Engineer, or engage in subterfuge as a Spy. And the best part is that the concept never gets old: Last year, I met up with my buddy in Minnesota for his wedding—and, just like the old days, we passed the time with hours of Team Fortress 2 on the PS3.
Grand Theft Auto IV
Released: April 29, 2008 – Xbox 360, PS3
When I purchased my copy of Grand Theft Auto IV, it wasn’t for the epic adventures of Niko Bellic, the amazement of the vast city Rockstar had created, or a long-running tradition of purchasing GTA titles—it was for the multiplayer. Checking out the game with a close friend after a midnight launch-day purchase, I found myself enamored with the game’s online components. I secured my own copy, hopped online, and teamed up with said friend in a battle of team deathmatch played out among a (virtual) living city—and it was as outrageously fun and chaotic as I’d hoped. To this day, I’ve only gotten about one-fourth of the way through the single-player, but playing GTA IV online has made me a believer in third-person shooters.
-Eric L. Patterson
Released: September 14, 2010 – Xbox 360
It is, admittedly, just a basic version team deathmatch with a different name. But two things make Halo’s Team Slayer mode stand out from other versions of this group gang war. For starters, while the core of the game is always “shoot those guys who don’t look like us,” both Halo games keep things interesting by doing variations on the theme. Sometimes, you might only be armed with sniper rifles; sometimes, you might all be Covenant Elites with their special weapons. But the bigger thing is that they’re in Halo games, with all the quality that implies: smooth and responsive controls, imaginative and multileveled maps, and—best of all, with an online multiplayer mode—there’s always someone looking for a fight.